In adolescence, children experience emotional and psychological changes. Unfulfilled goals and expectations in school, family, relationships with peers can lead to an aggravated feeling of disappointment in oneself and gloomy thoughts about life. During this period, children listen to the opinions of strangers more often than parents and teachers. Weak minds can easily instill other people’s views and manipulate them. And today this danger comes from social networks.
One of these types of manipulations of children’s consciousness is the deadly dangerous game on social networks called “The Blue Whale” (other names: “Quiet House”, “Wake Me Up at 4:20”, “Milky Way”, “Sea of Whales”), the ending of which is suicide.
As early as the spring of 2016, information about the existence of such a game was published in the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and widely disseminated by the media. According to the author of the article “Death Groups (18+)” Galina Mursalieva “in order to start the “game”, users of social networks (overwhelmingly teenagers) write on their pages the hashtags #sinkit, #yavigre, #blue, or #quiet house.
Then a “curator” contacts the users and establishes contact with them. As a rule, “curators” use fake accounts registered in other people’s names and surnames.
First, they explain the rules: “Do not tell anyone about this game!”, “Always complete tasks, whatever they are!”, “For not fulfilling the tasks, you will be expelled from the game forever and bad consequences await you!”
Then the “curator” gives assignments. Usually there are about 50 tasks: one per day. In her publication, Mursalieva claims that many assignments have a reference to Stace Kramer’s novel “50 Days Before My Suicide”.
It is worth noting that Russia and Kazakhstan already had precedents with similar games, and their creator, Philip Budeikin, hiding under the pseudonym “Philippe Lis (Fox)”, and his accomplices were arrested and charged for “posting audiovisual works, topics of discussion and statements promoting the theme of suicide” . But in the summer of 2019, it became known that Budeikin … was released (?) and there is a possibility that he will continue his deadly games again.
The other day, President Putin, touching on the topic of “death groups” in social networks, called their organizers “scum” and “freaks.”
How to protect your child from the Blue Whale and other dangerous games and trials that roam the Internet, presenting a serious challenge?
ORIENT talked about this with psychologist Aya Nazarova.
– For starters, I recommend that parents do not panic when they learn about the existence of a game such as Blue Whale. Quietly tell your child about the possibility of these groups getting on the Internet and their dangers. Just as you tell, for example, how to cross the road correctly and not get under the car. Explain that the page on the social network should not be visible to outsiders, it is not good to publish a large amount of personal information on it,” says the specialist. – You also need to take a closer look at your child and see if he has alarming signs: sadness, causeless aggression and lack of sleep, which are inherent in the participants of such games. Talk about this with your child’s teacher at school. Check the list of groups of social networks that the child is in and his correspondence with friends.
– Establish a trusting relationship with your child, he should not feel lonely, abandoned, neglected. Explain to him that he can always count on your support and protection, and not seek communication in dubious groups,” the psychologist explains. – Often take an interest in well-being, health, and the affairs of your child. Listen to him carefully, without interrupting his narration, so you give your child the opportunity to talk, relax, feel necessary and meaningful. For your attention in the conversation or for help, always sincerely thank him. Such communication will maintain established trust and friendships.
“Media education plays an important role in protecting children from the negative impact of mass media, it is aimed at the conscious participation of children and adolescents in the media and media culture, their information security,” says Oguldzhahan Agamysheva, chief specialist of the Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan. – To protect children from the risk that the content of Internet sites and social networks can carry, the dangers of harming their health, physical, mental, spiritual and moral development is the task of not only family, but also school education.
To this end, methodological recommendations are developed to inform students, their parents and teachers about the main aspects of information security and the rules of safe behavior on the web.
Indeed, many young users do not understand that the information posted by them on the same social networks can be found and used by anyone, including not necessarily with good intentions.
Here are the basic social security tips ORIENT offers parents and educators to use in conversations with children:
1. Limit your friends list. You should not have random people and strangers in your friends;
2. Protect your privacy. Do not include passwords, phone numbers, addresses, your date of birth, or other personal information. Attackers can even use information about how you and your parents plan to spend a vacation;
3. Protect your reputation – keep it clean and ask yourself the question: would you like other users to see what you download? Think before you post, write, or upload;
4. If you are talking to people you don’t know, do not use your real name and other personal information: place of residence, place of study, etc.
5. Avoid posting photos on the Internet, where you are depicted in an area where you can determine your location;
6. When registering on a social network, it is necessary to use complex passwords consisting of letters and numbers with at least 8 characters;
7. For a social network, mail and other sites, you must use different passwords. Then if you are hacked, the attackers will gain access to only one place, and not to all at once.